Saturday 9 September 2017

The Battle of the Carbs - Snacks

   Overcoming any neurosis is a slow process, and recognising when you're giving in to it is one of the first steps. Two weeks ago, I acknowledged that I had been under-eating for a year or so, and with the recognition, I made the decision to take control of it. The thing about the mind is that, while others can probably tell you what is wrong, only you can correct it. There are, after all, no casts or splints for your brain.
   But trying to eat bigger meals - eating more at three large points of the day - was too big a jump to make. It would result in massive guilt and over-compensating, and I would end up eating even less.
   So, I decided that the best place to start was with the little things - snacks. Make the smallest a little bigger, and begin to make the adjustment in my mind. Then, once I'm comfortable with eating more carbs in small amounts - alongside the usual fats and proteins - I can start to broaden breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I would like to be able to enjoy a full unicorn pancake, without having to cut corners and avoid nutritional additions just to keep the calories down. Calories and macronutrients are not the same.

   Now, I don't buy unhealthy snacks very often at all - a small chocolate bar that catches my eye once a month or so, which will then go into a cupboard, out of sight through guilt for having bought it, and will remain uneaten for another month until I inevitably forfeit it and give it to Seeg instead.
   Unhealthy snacks are always a greater concern than carb or calorie count, so I know that I can trust that what I buy and already have on hand is full of goodness. That is what I'm trying to focus on. But it's still a challenge not to look at the labels at home or in the store and start comparing two or three different products, looking exclusively at and obsessing over a difference of 7g of carbs or 35 calories. Instead I'm trying to consider the products themselves - mostly fruit or oats means mostly fibre and carbs, and mostly nuts means mostly proteins and fats. A combination is always best, but I always used to opt for the latter. So I'm trying to force more of the fruit, and more oats.
   And, to actually eat that chocolate bar once in a while.

   I've also started drinking kefir, 100ml a morning, first thing. That gets me about 50 calories or so extra every day, and also puts me into a better frame of mind because it's a good, clean, healthy start, especially since I've been making the kefir myself with live grains from Symbiome. It's also full-fat milk, so it's not been messed around with and also means my grains are the healthiest they can be, and the milk is also the most nutritious.

   I've also made a change to my food journaling habits - instead of counting calories as I go, adding them up throughout the day and deciding what size snack I can have - 100, 150 or 200 calories, regardless of nutrients - I'm paying a little less attention. As well as not buying unhealthy snacks very often, I don't buy high-calorie products at all. If it's over 200 calories, I won't buy it. In the end, being anal about 25 to 50 calories is needless and ridiculous. I'm trying to shrug it off.
   But I do still note the calories, as well as what I eat and when, so that I can keep track of whether I am actually succeeding in eating more, or if I've just managed to trick myself. And while I do still add them up, I don't do that until the end of the following day so that I don't slip into the trap of 'compensating' - starving myself of carbs and calories one day because I went 'over' what I thought I should have (which was 1350 calories) by 100, again regardless of nutrition. Carbs are higher in calories than fat or protein simply because of the energy-giving nature that defines a carbohydrate, and calories are simply the unit of measurement for dietary energy.
   So far, I am eating more. Not much more, but I'm getting there. It used to be normal to add up to 1400 in a day, and sometimes as low as 1250, but over the past two weeks I've been no lower than 1400, but no higher than 1500. Knowing that, on one hand I'm pleased that I'm making some kind of progress, but on the other I'm getting back into my head about eating too much.
   I'm trying very hard to silence that voice, and though it's a struggle, my food journal proves that I am making headway and I'm pleased for it. I just have to keep going.

   So, these are the kind of snacks I've had over the past two weeks:
• Eat Natural bars
• Aduna bars, a selection of all three, cacao, baobab and moringa
• Nakd bars, which I've always loved but honestly rarely eat
• Trek bars, fruit and flapjacks
• Two 'naughty' Graze punnets - the speculoos dipper, and banana bread.
• Pulsin brownies
• Bounce balls
   All of these are carb-heavy when compared to the greek yogurt, peanut butter, jerky and so on I would usually choose, or low-carb graze punnets of nuts, corns and edamame beans. Most on the list contain fruit, those that don't contain oats, and as for the graze punnets, they're the closest things to 'sweets' you can get without feeling guilty, and that's due to the quality and choice of ingredients, and the portion sizes. Portion sizes are so important when it comes to enjoying carbohydrates while keeping guilt at bay.

   After these two weeks of improving my snacks, I have noticed a drop in fatigue and guilt, but I do still suffer from both a few times every day. But, I think I'll be able to start addressing meals soon - or at least lunch. It's the one meal of my day that never involves carbs, so it's an easy place to start improvising. And, now I think about it, would probably have been a better place to start than snacks, but there we go.


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